The only one of Kipling’s novels to be cast in an American setting, Captains Courageous endures as one of literature’s most cherished and memorable sea adventures. Harvey Cheyne, spoiled millionaire’s son, tumbles overboard from a luxury liner–only to be rescued by the crew of a Gloucester schooner. Thus begins the boy’s second voyage into the rugged rites and ways of sailors. Like all Kipling’s masterworks, Captains Courageous is an interweaving of art and moral purpose. Angus Wilson has said that it shows “delicacy of craft and violence of feeling, exactitude and wile impressionism, subtlety and true innocence.” A popular favourite since its first publication in 1897, the novel remains a classic story of youthful initiation–and a lively tribute to the author’s famous code of bravery, loyalty, an honour among men.
The weather door of the smoking–room had been left open to the North Atlantic fog, as the big liner rolled and lifted, whistling to warn the fishing–fleet.
“That Cheyne boy’s the biggest nuisance aboard,” said a man in a frieze overcoat, shutting the door with a bang. “He isn’t wanted here. He’s too fresh.”
A white–haired German reached for a sandwich, and grunted between bites: “I know der breed. Ameriga is full of dot kind. I dell you you should imbort ropes’ ends free under your dariff.”